How to deal when your wedding goes viral and people hate it

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Haters Gonna Hate Cat Art Print

It happened again last week: another wedding made the rounds on the internet, and a bunch of people snarked on it.

I hate it when this happens, because while I think there's a valuable discussion to be had about what makes certain wedding themes problematic, all too often these discussions instead devolve into the Tastefulness Police decreeing this theme as tacky, that invitation as tasteless, etc.

Even when I agree with the opinions, it makes me sad to see people's weddings get trashed online.

We've featured several weddings that have gone viral and caused internet shit-storms, and we always feel terrible when it happens.

  • There was the iPad wedding, which made one commenter rant, “If I was the father of the bride who had to PAY for all that nonsense I would have just shot them both in the face and left them united in a ditch.”
  • There was the Katamari Damacy wedding, which was first lambasted as too dorky and then caught the attention off a group of racist bloggers who said shit like, “They made a joke out of their nuptials, but then again, interracial nuptials are a joke.” Those comments made me shiver.
  • Then there were the pop culture-laden comic book invites, which made the Tastefulness Police turn on their sirens and decree that it was dated and regrettable within about 15 minutes. One commenter went so far as to say, “That is the most cringeworthy heap of shite I've seen in my entire life. I'm actually going to find out where they're holding it and go and kick them to death.” Oh, the interwebs: where a wedding invitation can incite someone to so much moral outrage that it garners a death threat.

Honestly, I don't care whether you agree or disagree with any these opinions. We all have opinions, and Internet Rage is everyone's favorite hobby. But, putting aside all our Very Important Opinions about the audacity of people having weddings we don't like (…CAN YOU IMAGINE!? I am FROTHING with OUTRAGE), I want to address the other side of this issue: how to deal when your wedding (yes, your incredibly tasteful, personalized, awesome wedding that you worked on for months or even years) goes viral, and then gets shit on by dozens or hundreds or even thousands of strangers.

1. Don't read comments
(and if you do read them, DON'T RESPOND)

Offbeat Bride's comment policy is pretty unusual in our commitment to “don't be a dick” commenting. The rest of the internet is not so kind. Many times, we've linked to nontraditional weddings featured on other sites, with a note cautioning Don't read the comments! In fact, that's how I first found Pushba: I found her wedding on a snark site, in a post featuring 200+ comments about what a freak she was. (And oh yes, SHE IS! In the very best way.)

If you skip reading web comments about your wedding, you'll skip 90% of the most cruel, poorly thought-out rants. There's still that 10% of people who, if they REALLY hate your wedding, will write about it on their own blogs — but when folks take the time to do this, they generally take the time to frame things a bit more coherently than your random drive-by troll who types BITCHEZ MAKE ME A SAMMICH!! on your gorgeous lesbian wedding. (True story: that was a comment we received after this wedding went viral on several video game blogs. Oh 12 year old boys. You're so witty!)

Also, resist the urge to dive into the fray and start defending yourself in the comments, via Twitter, on your own blog, etc. In the first few days after your wedding goes viral, you're going to be understandably VERY emotional — any responses will be fueled by defensiveness and outrage. Even if you're completely in the right and totally lucid, chances are about 99% that you're going to come off as a little crazy. Seriously: other than saying “Wow, this attention has been really overwhelming,” DO NOT RESPOND AT ALL FOR 48 HOURS. Just shut the fuck up. Honestly. For your own good, please PLEASE just don't type anything. You will only fan the flames and make it much, much worse.

2. Step away from the computer

When a friend hurts your feelings, you don't sit and stare at them for six hours afterwards. When the internet hurts your feelings, you need to STEP AWAY. Turn it down. Go for a walk. Exercise does wonders for an internet-bruised ego — I think it's really important to get out of your head, and back in your body. Get grounded in the real world. Go talk to some real people. Even if you're like “Oh hi, mailman — I'm crying because the internet called my wedding stupid,” you're still getting out into the real world and reconnecting with tangible reality, where people don't walk up to your face and tell you they're going to kick you to death because of your wedding invitations.

3. Surround yourself with friends

Related to step 2 is gathering with the people who care about you. Spend time with some real life friends or family. Have them over. Go out for drinks. Get some hugs. Confess your insecurities. (Are those people on the internet right!?) Get some perspective. Share some laughs. Touch some skin. Drink some wine, if that's your thing.

This wedding invitation incited death threats. No, seriously.
This wedding invitation incited death threats. No, seriously.

4. Go into digital hermitude

If it's really bad (people making threats, harassing you via email, etc), go into digital hiding for a week. Take the wedding photos off Flickr. Take down your Twitter. Password protect your wedding website. Put your blog on hiatus, or at least close comments. Filter your emails to send hateful shit to the trash. Protect yourself digitally in whatever ways help you feel safe.

5. Wait it out

Internet news cycles are ridiculously short. In a week, most hobbyist haters will have moved on to a new outrage. Within 10 days, your stupid wedding will be such old news that people will be like, “Oh man, I hated that wedding before it it was cool.” If the wedding hating goes on for more than 10 days, then it may be time for Step 6…

6. Consider an apology

In some special cases, there may be validity to people's concerns about your wedding. In the case of the now-infamous Colonial wedding, the photographers who'd posted about the wedding wrote a very sincere apology, recognizing the ways that their wording had contributed to problematic framing of a sensitive cultural/racial issue.

Another example of a great response to viral criticism is the “Wedding Dance” folks. When their dancing wedding entrance video went viral, they were criticized for using a Chris Brown song, a legitimate concern given Chris Brown's issues with domestic violence. The couple responded by collecting donations for a domestic violence non-profit — $34,000, all told. They heard the feedback and responded not by defending their choice, but by essentially saying “That's kinda fucked up and wasn't our intention — here, maybe this will help.” A $34,000 donation absolutely helps.

If people are saying your gamer wedding is tacky, obviously there's no need to apologize — what would you say? “Sorry you think I'm silly; we clearly have different taste.” But if you're being criticized for, say, cultural appropriation or privileged entitlement? There may be a real opportunity for some personal development.

Take some time to cool down, collect your thoughts, and consider the feedback. Once you're feeling solid about what it might all mean (give it at least a week), there can be real value in saying, “Thanks for taking the time to share your perspectives with me. I've taken some time to really think about this, and I think I understand what you're saying. I'm sorry. I can see where I didn't think this all the way through. This experience has been enlightening and I've learned a lot.”

Because while I think we can all agree that the Tastefulness Police should be ignored… every once in a while, the internet isn't just being shitty. Every once in a while, it's trying to teach you something. And every once in a while, you should listen.

Comments on How to deal when your wedding goes viral and people hate it

  1. > When a friend hurts your feelings, you don’t sit and stare at them for six hours afterwards. When the internet hurts your feelings, you need to STEP AWAY.

    Such a great analogy!

  2. The issue/nessasary evil of the Internet is that users are anonymous. This allows people to write whatever they choose without as much social pressure to be aware of feelings.
    That being said,this article is very well structured and written.

    However, I hope that someday every blog will have OBB’s comment policy will be standard and render this article obsolete.

    ~Yeah I know I’m dreaming about that last paragraph but a girl can dream can’t she?

  3. Good post but there’s one thing that can be added; you do not have to post everything on the web. I’m an oldie having seen hate wars for more than a decade on forums (sci fi in my case mostly) and the best thing if you want your special moments to stay shiny and not the cause of a shit storm from people who should have better things to do is to STAY AWAY FROM INTERNET. Don’t post under your own name. Don’t post pictures of family and special occasions. Don’t be personal.

    Internet brings out the true face of people and some faces aren’t pretty at all. IRL there are social rules that most abide but on the net all bets are off. People can be incredibly ugly on the inside.

  4. Good post. Some people are so rude and I really don’t understand why or how someone can get so riled up over another’s choices in life…whether it’s favourite bands or weddings. Is it really that hard to say, “Not my thing, but it’s OK if you’re into it.” ? Apparently so.

  5. Wonderful article! I’ve always hated when people become rude and outraged simply because they don’t like other people’s harmless choices. I fully agree each wedding should be unique and as personal as the couple wants, *especially* when they have less-than-mainstream personalities or hobbies. To me, our diversities are what makes life interesting.

    Love that you only approve comments that move conversations forward. The bashers only mire us in negativity (not saying all negative comments are bad–as you allude to in point #7, some people can constructively comment in a way that brings out flaws without screaming and threatening).

    BTW, you are one of my favorite sites to pin from. ~Bobette

  6. This goes even beyond just weddings. What do you do when any of your life photos or videos goes viral?

    My awesome Star Wars themed maternity photo was featured on a bash site of awkward photos, and I read such comments as that my husband was orbiting the Death Star (He was kissing my big fat pregnant belly which was covered in Star Wars and music themed henna designs) to others that compared me to Jabba the Hut. At the time, I was devastated.

    18 months later, I look back and I laugh my ass off. My photo must have been extremely awesomely geeky to have been featured on that website, and several of my new friends who I have told about this story have asked why I would have had them take the photo down, because the photo is so awesome, and they are jealous that they have never had anything worthy of going viral. But the first few days, I contemplated hurting myself… I had just given birth, was suffering from postpartum depression, and this was the moment that someone messaged me on a baby forum asking if that picture was me, because it looked similar to another I had shared on the forums.

    I guess my best advise having been through this is to take a deep breath, seek support of the ones who love you and your photo/video/blog post, and then find something to laugh about. Realize how totally awesome you are that people are so jealous of you that they have to say mean things. They must be really insecure with their lives and themselves if they have to take time out of their days to belittle others.

    And proudly display your photo within your home, not hidden away out of site… put it where everyone can see, and everyone can know how totally amazing your life is!

  7. Thank you OffbeatEmpire for flashing up this post to me, under the ‘Recommended for you’ section. Something I posted on a closed Facebook group briefly went viral, thanks to a lurking journalist, and was printed in two national newspapers. At the time it was horrendous (and coincided with my health taking a nose dive the night before all this happened) and reading this post helped me gain a little perspective. Huzzah to the wise Offbeat gurus!

  8. It’s a shame that people are so cruel. I deliberately avoided generic wedding sites like theknot.com and others like it and felt more comfortable here on offbeatbride…but unfortunately, there will always be asshole internet bullies. I *just* got married and considered submitting my stuff online because we did put a lot of work, money, and thought into it and we are so proud of what we pulled off and I couldn’t bare having some loser who doesn’t like our theme or something lame to comment on MY wedding. I love this site because it embraces everyone’s “weirdness” and non-traditionalness (Yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word!). I love every article that’s posted here even if it’s wayyyy off what I’m into. We’re all unique and that’s what makes us, and this site awesome. Keep up the good work, Offbeat and thank you for posting this article calling out nasty and unnecessary comments on other people’s big days!

  9. There are some weddings/families/home ideas that I see on these sites that I’m not necessarily interested in/don’t understand. Sometimes I click on the link and read a few sentences and when I see it’s not something I care about I do this crazy thing – close the page and go read something I do care about. I’ve never been able to understand why people get upset about anything that isn’t specifically in their own wheelhouse. It’s totally cool that some people have Doctor Who themed weddings – I’m one of the 1% of “geeks” who do not give a shit about Doctor Who, but I would never so much as raise an eyebrow at someone who incorporates part of it into their wedding. Who the hell am I to judge any single choice that someone chooses to use in a ceremony that is specifically tailored to their own tastes? I can’t imagine spending energy caring about anything like that, let alone getting actually angry and causing a scene about it. I’m sure plenty of people would consider my house to be “tacky,” with tons of action figures and original pages of comic books lining the walls as artwork, but if it makes me happy, who even cares???

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